• GrowNYC Education

Preserving Fresh Herbs

Learn four methods to preserve fresh herbs: Air Drying, Powders, Freezing, Extracts, and Oxymels


Herbal Properties ● Rosemary -- energy, circulation, digestion, nerves ● Sage -- antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral; used for digestive problems ● Thyme -- for upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis; also antiviral and antibacterial ● Oregano -- for upper respiratory infections, also antiviral and antibacterial ● Mint -- stomach soothing, digestive aid ● Raspberry Leaves -- rich in antioxidants and iron; used for PMS and menstrual cramping ● Lemon Verbena -- reduces inflammation and fever, strengthens muscles, boosts immunity, digestive aid, relieves stomach issues ● Basil -- to ease inflammation and joint pain; for mental fatigue, stress, and depression ● Chamomile -- for improved sleep quality and to promote digestive health ● Hyssop -- used for digestive and intestinal problems including liver and gallbladder conditions and loss of appetite; also for respiratory problems ● Shiso -- antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral; high in iron, calcium, and carotene; used for respiratory problems, improved immunity, and digestive upset

Air Drying & Powders

Works best with herbs with low moisture content: bay, dill, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.


Indoor Air Drying ○ Harvest branches, remove dry or diseased leaves, and clear bottom inch of each stem ○ Tie stems in bundles and hang upside down ○ Place bundle in a holey paper bag & label ○ Hang upside down in warm, airy, dry room for ~2 weeks (avoid kitchen for heat and steam)


Make a Powder ○ Mortar & pestle, clean coffee grinder, food processor ○ Jar & label, and discard any jar that grows mold, and re-dry any jars that show signs of moisture ○ Store jars in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight ○ 1⁄4 part dried = 1 part fresh ○ Use within 1 year

Freezing Herbs

  • Herbs with higher water content are better preserved frozen than dried: try basil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley

  • Unlike dried herbs, frozen herbs can be used in same proportions as fresh herbs

Freeze as Individual Leaves: ○ Clean, dry, and separate leaves from stalks ○ Spread individual leaves flat on a cookie sheet and cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap ○ Freeze 2hrs to overnight ○ Store in zippered bags

Freeze as “Ice Cubes” ○ Clean, dry, and chop herbs and add one tablespoon to each portion; cover with water in an ice cube tray ○ Alternatively, blend fresh herbs with a preferred cooking oil and freeze in individual cube portions

DIY Extracts

● Extracts use alcohol to pull beneficial nutrients from the herbs over time ● Use 80 Proof (40% alcohol by weight) vodka + fresh herb leaves ● Clean and dry herb leaves well, then chop roughly ● Pack leaves into a small jar, leaving a bit of wiggle room ● Fill jar with vodka to cover the leaves ● Store out of direct sunlight, shaking daily for 6-8 weeks ● Strain out leaves and enjoy, storing out of sunlight ● Can use same method to make homemade vanilla extract














Oxymels

● A sweet & sour herbal syrup, from Latin “oxymeli” meaning “acid and honey” ● Made of 1 part herbs + 3-4 parts vinegar and honey ● Vinegar helps draw out beneficial vitamins and minerals, and both honey and vinegar act as preservatives ● Keep refrigerated or in a cool, dark place for ~1yr

Hot Method: ○ Use 2x the allotted amount of vinegar and simmer for 15-30 minutes with desired herbs ○ Strain & mix finished product with an equal part honey ○ ~1 year shelf life

Cold Method: ○ Fill small jar 1⁄2-3⁄4 full of herbs ○ Pour honey over herbs, then vinegar; about half and half, or more vinegar to taste; Stir ○ Shake daily for ~2 weeks, then strain herbs out, bottle it and store in a cool place or the refrigerator


Infused Oils

1. Clean the jars

2. Choose flavoring / aroma

  • Chili pepper, garlic, aromatic herbs for culinary oil

  • Lavender, rose petals, rosemary for cosmetic oils

3. Choose an oil (EVOO for cooking; baby or almond oil for cosmetics)

4. Fill container: 1c plant material, 2c oil

5. Leave in sun for a few days, until plant material begins to brown

6. If not strong enough, strain and repeat with fresh plant material

7. When to your liking, strain thoroughly and put in a clean bottle

8. Store in cool, dry place

GrowNYC is the sustainability resource for New Yorkers: providing free tools and services anyone can use in order to improve our City and environment. #letsgrownyc

Sign up for monthly newsletters from GrowNYC Education!

  • GrowNYC
  • GrowNYC
  • GrowNYC